African press review 11 January 2013
Privileges for Kenya's MPs and in South Africa, negotiations to try to end farmworkers strikes are covered in today's African papers.
The East African is reporting on the UN condemnation of "inhuman' violence in Tana Kenya, where fighting between two tribal communities, the Pokomo and Orma, has intensified in recent months leaving at least 200 dead and 112, 000 displaced, according to the Red Cross. The paper also writes that the UN is urging the government to act with speed and Kenyans to 'exercise their democratic rights in a peaceful manner with respect for the rights and dignity of all concerned."
Another important issue in Kenya is the pay rise of members of parliament. "Not again! MPS in night pay rise trick" headlines the country's Daily Nation. It writes that MPs "concluded their term by raiding the treasury and awarding themselves goodies that would cost Kenyans over 2.6 billion shillings".
The article also says a bill was passed that guarantees life-long security. This would include bodyguards, diplomatic passports and a funeral paid for by the government. It also guarantees that Kenyan MPs and their spouses will have unlimited access to executive lounges in Kenyan airports. Basically the VIP treatment. Oh and obviously the 42 cabinet ministers and 55 deputies will also leave office with a driver paid for by the taxpayer.
The Daily Nation criticises the MPs for amending the law at night, a practice which was initially meant for police and intelligence matters. The paper also notes that the last page was written by hand, contrary to parliamentary practice. It also suggests only a handful of MPs were present to validate this change which was not even read out in line with normal practice. Apparently it was difficult for journalists to obtain access to the details of the bill.
Over in South Africa, there is also a lot of discontent in the Western Cape, where farmers have agreed to union negotiations following violent strikes. The Cape Orchards Group chairperson tells The Mail& Guardian that he has invited 28 farmers to a meeting today (Friday) to discuss a settlement deal. Almost 6000 workers went on strike and there were some violent clashes between farmers and the police. Water cannons, rubber bullets and stun grenades were all used in an attempt to disperse the thousands of strikers. 62 people are reported to have been arrested.
Staying in South Africa, but moving to a different type of story, in The Star, about doubts over a woman's abduction. The paper tells of how a 26 year-old woman went missing and how her mother received a text message saying she had been kidnapped, requesting a ransom of 260 euros for her release. The mother took the case to the police and a "crime-fighting organisation" was called in to track down her daughter. It did so via her mobile phone signal and eventually found her walking down the street looking fine. She still claims she was abducted and a ransom was requested. The Star finishes off the story by saying she allegedly had a gambling problem.
A more serious matter is that of accidental fires in Nigeria. The Punch quotes the Rivers State Government as saying that "no fewer than 230 persons lost their lives in 222 fire incidents in the state in 2012". 73 people are also reported to have suffered different degrees of injuries from fire outbreaks in the last year. Most of the fire outbreaks are being blamed on electrical faults. A review of the year shows that 304 emergency calls were made and it transpires that 83 of them were fake.
The study was organised in order to improve fire emergency operations.